The Protozoa Games

Humans and Single Celled Animals Work Together on a Variety of Challenges
Proposed Art Installation by Stephen Wilson, August, 2003, BlueRoom Gallery
 
 
Overview

A series of events allow humans and protozoa to work together.  A digital microscope tracks the activities of a variety of live single celled animals such a paramecia, amoebae, vorticella, volvox, and rotifers.  At the same time motion detection technology tracks the movements of humans in the installation space near the protozoa.  The computer orchestrates a series of 'games' in which protozoa actions influence the humans and others where humans try to influence the protozoa.  Lights flash, electornic sound, and computer animations are composed.and web surfing is activated.  A series of events are offered - either activated by visitor choice or an automatic rotation.  A related event allows web visitors to observe the protozoa and also engage in collaborative acts..  The installation investigates a variety of themes:  human relatioships with animals, animal and human experimentation, the nature of intelligence and consciousness,  and reflections on the essence of life.


 
Description of Some of the Possible Events
 
Follow Me:  The human in front of the Protozoa is invited to try to duplicate the motions of the protozoa.  A virtual rectangle on the floor of the installation mimics the relative positions on the screen rectangle of the microscope.  Using a split screen the installation offers live video of human and protozoa and rewards the human's tracking the movements with computer sound and graphics and flashing lights.
 
Make a Protozoa Your Friend: A variety of 'targets' are superimposed on the microscope video of the protozoa.  The humans are invited to try to influence the protozoa to move toward one of the targets.  If more than one human is present, there can be a competition to control the protozoa.  Human cans exert influence by singing/yelling/speaking into microphones on oppositie sides of slide area of the microscope or by controlling lights places on opposite sides.
 
Take a Friend Web Surfing:  Humans and protozoa go web surfing together.  The movements of the protozoa control what web pages are accessed on a linked web browser.  The movement of the humans select and position the targets on the screen that provide the potential target urls. 
 
** Note since this installation is in the midst of production, the details of these events are still subject to modification.  Also additional events may be added.  The Internet events will be developed only after the local events are far enough along.
 
 
 
 
Logistical Requirements
The installation ideally requires the following:

- A space in which the visitors can move.  Ideally with would be the stage although other 9 x 12 space could work
- An appropriate place to mount the projector (if I can get one) or the display screen if not
- An appropriate space to mount the camera high above the scene
- 3 pedastals (1 for the microscope and 2 for the microphones and touch pads people will use to control the lights in the Make a Protozoa a Friend event

- A computer with connections to a display projector (or screen), the digital microscope, the movement tracking camera, interface box to read sensors and activate lights
- A display projector (or screen)
- Microphones, amplifiers, and small speakers
- Lights to be contrlled by the computer
- Access to phone line or dsl for Internet connection


 
 
Stage version:- 
Installation version-

 
Technical Description:

- Macintosh Computer
- The Intel QX3 digital microscope (live video of protozoa in demoslide culture)
- Digital camera (motion tracking)
- Microphone (small speakers on each side of protozoa culture)
- Lights (computer controlled on either side of demoslide)
 

- Macomedia Director is main software
- TrackThemColors Xtra for Director (track motion of both the protozoa and the humans in the installation area. )
- EZIO board and serial xtra (read touch pad, control display lights)
- Modem or DSL (Internet access controlled from Director)